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Keywords:

  • child maltreatment;
  • corpus callosum;
  • hippocampus;
  • magnetic resonance imaging;
  • post-traumatic stress disorder

Child maltreatment has been associated with different psychiatric disorders. Studies on both animals and humans have suggested that some brain areas would be directly affected by severe psychological trauma. The pathophsysiology of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) appears to be related to a complex interaction involving genetic and environmental factors. Advanced neuroimaging techniques have been used to investigate neurofunctional and neurostructural abnormalities in children, adolescents, and adults with PTSD. This review examined structural brain imaging studies that were performed in abused and traumatized children, and discusses the possible biological mechanisms involved in the pathophysiology of PTSD, the implications and future directions for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies. Published reports in refereed journals were reviewed by searching Medline and examining references of the articles related to structural neuroimaging of PTSD. Structural MRI studies have been performed in adults and children to evaluate the volumetric brain alterations in the PTSD population. In contrast with studies involving adults, in which hippocampus volumetric reduction was the most consistent finding, studies involving children and adolescents with PTSD have demonstrated smaller medial and posterior portions of the corpus callosum.